When we first wrote about The Revomatics, the band was so young it hadn't even really officially played out yet. But things have changed.
The Revomatics – which now comprises guitarists Drew De Lutio and Joe Weigel, bassist Pete Flessas and drummer Jeff Schneider – have now performed with their hero Dick Dale and recently got a call to open for The B-52's in Chicago.
Plus, a new full-length record is ready for launch at a Friday, May 8 gig at Lucky Joe's Tiki Room.
We caught up with the boys to ask about the surging seas the band has been experiencing lately.
OnMilwaukee.com: It's been a long time since we caught up with The Revomatics. Tell me a bit about the changes the band's been through over the past couple years.
Drew De Lutio: We've really shifted our focus to writing originals and perhaps pushing the envelope a bit, rather than trying to be another nostalgic 60's throwback. We brought in multi-instumentalist Joe Weigel, and that's been a great collaboration for me on lead guitar. I can focus on melodies and know that Joe is going to come up with something harmonically interesting.
Joe Weigel: And it's been equally rewarding to play with Drew, he's got such an articulate style.
Pete Flessas: We're definitely in a good place now, lineup-wise. Transition can be tough for a band, but we've remained focused and it's apparent that we're coalescing, both as musicians and as personalities.
Jeff Schneider: We all come from different musical backgrounds, which has really helped us reinvent ourselves a bit.
OMC: You've had some pretty high profile gigs lately, right? Tell us about how they came to be and what they were like.
DD: We've supported Dick Dale a couple of times, and last summer we got to hang out and talk shop a bit. He's a fountain of knowledge for any guitar player. Obviously getting a call to play with The B-52's tells us we're doing something right.
JW: Yeah, I really can't look at the 5-way switch on my Stratocaster anymore without thinking about Dick Dale.
PF: I listened to The B-52's growing up, so hanging out, watching them soundcheck, then playing to a sold-out house in Chicago was certainly a "bucket list" moment. They have a great crew and everyone was really cool to us. Big shout-out to Patrick Morrow for sitting-in that night!
OMC: And a new record, give us some highlights.
JS: In some ways, it feels like the first true Revomatics record.
DD: I think fans of guitar riffs in general will really lose their minds over some of this stuff.
JW: We wanted to make a surf record that didn't sound like a surf record. So the drums are huge. The bass is present. There is plenty of, shall we say, "alternative instrumentation." But not too much. It was important for us to make a guitar-heavy album that introduced other elements not usually associated with the surf-rock idiom.
DD: We had a blast working with Shane Hochstetler at Howl Street. I'm so proud of it. There's not a weak track on there!
OMC: How does a classic instrumental surf band stay relevant in 2015? Or is it less about that than finding the fans of the style and staying "authentic"?
DD: I think staying "authentic" is what has caused instrumental guitar music to atrophy in the first place. You stay relevant by tossing the word "classic" and refusing to be antiquated.
JS: It's more important for us to be happy with the music we're making than it is for us to feel like we're staying authentic. And the crowds have been extremely receptive to what we're doing.
JW: Yeah, we got a lot of "You guys blew me away!" at the Dick Dale show last year. And those were hardcore surf fans. I think authenticity is about getting up on stage and being yourself.
OMC: What's the near future hold for the band? Release party? Other gigs?
PF: We have a CD release show at Lucky Joe's Tiki Room on May 8. That kind of kicks off our summer tour. We'll be playing throughout the Midwest and the South with some other great surf bands – The Mystery Men?, The Surf Zombies, The Madiera. Southern Surf Stomp, Hod Rod Hula Hop – and another surf cruise on Lake Michigan on Aug. 29.
DD: And stay tuned for our upcoming appearance on NPR's Lake Effect. Find us on Facebook, YouTube, and hopefully a city near you! All the details online at therevomatics.com.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.